During the Boston Celtics' 117-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, star point guard Isaiah Thomas played 32 minutes, scoring a game-high 27 points.
There was no indication that Thomas suffered an injury, but on Thursday, the Celtics said their leader would miss the next two games with a right knee bone bruise.
Those games, on the road against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night and in Philadelphia against the 76ers on Sunday, now become much tougher, as Thomas does it all for the Celtics.
Thomas's injury also comes at a bad time, as the Celtics finally had their starting five healthy - a unit that is 21-7 when they play together. Thomas told ESPN.com that he wishes the team's starters could play together more often:
"We haven't been together that much," Thomas said. "We go together four, five games and somebody will get hurt or go down, and then we'll go another four or five games together. So I'm glad we could get a good stretch of games together. Hopefully everyone will stay healthy and we can finish the season off right."
With a combined record of 37-97, the Nets and 76ers are two of the Eastern Conference's worst teams. However, the Celtics can't overlook their upcoming opponents, especially as they chase the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
At 43-25 on the season, the Celtics trail the 45-22 Cavs by 2.5 games. But catching Cleveland isn't the only concern for coach Brad Stevens' squad. The Washington Wizards, at 41-26, are only 1.5 games behind Boston for the No. 2 seed.
As the Celtics continue their stretch of games against lesser opponents, center Al Horford told ESPN.com that Boston can't take anyone - even the Nets and 76ers - lightly:
"I think we need to understand the sense of urgency," Horford said. "It doesn't matter who we play, what their record is. We're playing for bigger things. So we have to make sure that we start to build these habits."
Horford, who is averaging 14 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game this season, will be counted on to step up in Thomas's absence.
Horford won't be the only Celtic who needs to step up this weekend, though. Thomas is averaging 29.2 points and 6.0 assists per night, so it'll truly be a team effort to fill his shoes.
Thomas missed four games games earlier this season, a stretch during which the Celtics went 1-3, with the lone win being against the struggling Orlando Magic. However, as long as Thomas only misses this weekend's games, the Celtics should be able to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
After all, if they can't beat the Nets and 76ers, then they probably don't deserve the No. 1 seed, anyway.News Now - Sport News